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best AGP card for less than $150

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Last response: in Graphics & Displays
August 23, 2008 8:32:30 AM

i know AGP is old technology. it's an upgrade for a friend who has no money and buying a new mobo/other crap is out of the question. he wants to be able to play cod4, what are some agp cards that could run it?

i'm looking at the 3850 atm, it's not a great performance/price ratio (i could get a pcie 4850 for like 25 more) but it's probably the best APG card...?
edit: should i go with the one with baller cooling? or not even?

More about : agp card 150

August 23, 2008 9:16:49 AM

both are same card go for the card that has best warranty and perks look at visiontek it has the best warranty lifetime i think, on the side and i know you cant get no more ti4400-4800 was a darn good card but it was before dx!! just the old timer in me :) 

August 23, 2008 9:25:18 AM

I played COD4 on my HIS Radeon X1650Pro at 1024x768 Resolution, with all settings at high, but no anti aliasing and it worked very well.
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August 23, 2008 9:27:23 AM

Another great card to consider is the X1950Pro or XT, if u can find it.....the radeon 3850 is also available in AGP, but again as far as i know its hard to come buy. Try Tigerdirect or Newegg.
August 23, 2008 10:18:18 AM

I use a PNY Verto GeForce 7600 GS AGP 512 mem and it work great.
August 23, 2008 12:13:39 PM

Unfortunately, even if he gets a really good video card, he may still not be able to play COD4 with specs like that. He is quite likely wasting his money.
August 23, 2008 12:25:35 PM

yeah the minimum requirements are a P4@2.4 so i hope that his is a 2.4 and not a 2.2 like i thought it might be. but i really don't remember, they could be 2.6s i'll ask him. if not he could do a mild OC and eventually burn out his old crap computer. i've played cod4 on my old P4 that was at 2 GHz with an nvidia 6800 and got like ~40 fps.

assuming he can run it, what card...?
August 23, 2008 8:44:51 PM

raider do you know how many frames per second you got with your X1650?
a b U Graphics card
August 24, 2008 2:31:46 PM

A P4 2.4GHz is minimum spec, which means it should be playable at the lowest detail levels. No need buying a video card that can handle max details if the CPU/system it's paired with can not.

What are your friends expectations? If he expects to see COD4 in all it's glory with a video card upgrade alone, he will surely be disappointed. If he just wants to play the game no matter how it looks, then look for a cheap new AGP card that meets the needs. The tough part is, finding a nicely matched AGP card that is priced at a good savings over the next step up. I think even the GDDR2 X1650 pro could handle low details at a pretty high res in COD4, so that is probably a good match for that game. But the one you linked to is still expensive at $70 for what you get.

In all honesty, I'd recommend saving for a new system or go for a cheap upgrade like this one for $38 shipped AR:

August 24, 2008 6:33:20 PM

Bah, ^^^ -1
Listen the "details" are 100% dependant on the graphics hardware, and have little to do with the CPU. If the CPU is enough to run the game, then you should be able to turn the settings much higher, for no performance hit, with a high end card.

Best to try the game on your existing hardware at the absolute lowest settings. If its still unplayable, then your CPU is not fast enough to run the game code at playable rates. Then a new card will get you NOWHERE.

BUT if the game is very playable at low settings, a better card will let you boost the eye candy, with little to no extra load on the CPU.
Your CPU will effectively limit your frame rate, which will be largely uneffected by resolution and details. A new card will not help or increase that frame rate ceiling.
But if that ceiling is above playable levels, then a new card will let you boost details and stay playble, but it will not let you cross that barrier.

I bought a AGP 3850 for my P4 2.8ghz and i can tell you, my CPU will not let me play any modern game at playable levels.
But all my old games can reach much greater details with the new card than my old 6600gt AGP. These old CPUs can not crunch the code fast enough on games like COD4.

For example I got a copy of UT3. Tests on My P4 2.8ghz 2gb DDR 333 RAM:

Absolute minimum settings (in game and ini file) 800x600
6600gt AGP - 25FPS
3850 AGP - 25FPS

Medium Settings (ingame) 1024x768
6600gt AGP - less than 5fps
3850 AGP - 25FPS

Maximum settings 1280x1024
6600gt AGP- less than 2 FPS!
3850 AGP - 25FPS

Maximum settings 1600x1200
3850 AGP- 25fps

So 25FPS is all my CPU can deliver, which is unplayable for UT3, so my GPU upgrade was a waste (and buying UT3 for that matter).

However, my CPU ceiling is about 40fps for BF2142, so for that game i can increase settings from Medium-low to maximum, for NO PERFORMANCE HIT. Obviously my 3850 could reach much higher frame rates, and the CPU is bottlenecking it. But 40fps is enough, and it looks much better.
So I could of bought a card for less money that is capable of delivering playable rates of BF2142 at maximum settings. There are few games that my CPU can handle, that can even flex this 3850. A much cheaper card could of done just as well.
a b U Graphics card
August 25, 2008 2:11:33 PM

hixbot said:
Bah, ^^^ -1
Listen the "details" are 100% dependant on the graphics hardware, and have little to do with the CPU. If the CPU is enough to run the game, then you should be able to turn the settings much higher, for no performance hit, with a high end card.

??? LOL, Say what? You are completely wrong about "the details" being all GPU limited and having nothing to do with the CPU. You go on to further prove it with your results as your CPU is limiting performance to 25 unplayable setting regardless of the resolution. Try low details, and your fps will skyrocket.

The OP asked about COD4, which I know first hand from doing a recent review, would be totally CPU limited to unplayable framerates at max details on his CPU with an HD3850, or any GPU for that matter. I have done extensive CPU scaling tests in numerous games testing just this, and the CPU greatly effects the detail levels you can turn up. Should be common sense really if you think about it.

Resolution and Eye candy like FSAA/AF is a different story than the games detail levels, but if changing/enabling those has no effect on fps, you are CPU/system limited not GPU limited.
August 25, 2008 2:50:24 PM

No sorry, my FPS do not skyrocket at low details, they are bound to 25fps, as even with the lowest graphics settings will not change the fact that my CPU is too slow to run the game code. I didnt only change the resolution, i was changing the details. With my lowest settings, i even dug into the INI files to disable even more graphics details that were not in the ingame settings.

The "details" (as i quoted) are refering to graphics details, the type that can be usually changed in game. MOST if not ALL of those "details" are GPU bound. Obviously there could be some settings that DO put extra load on the CPU. But I have discovered none of those in UT3, and other games are giving me the same results.

The "details" I am referring to are things like FSAA, texture settings, and resolution etc. In my experience these things are GPU bound.

My point being that if your CPU can handle the lowest graphics settings, it will also handle the highest settings, PROVIDED YOUR GPU CAN HANDLE IT.
a b U Graphics card
August 26, 2008 12:26:12 AM

Hmm, are you sure you set all details to minimum, or were you selective? Reason I ask, is you P4 2.8GHz is way above minimum spec for that game (P4 2.0GHz is min spec, which would be a 400 bus slug). So your CPU should not be limited to 25 fps at minimum details like you say if a P4 2.0GHz can play the game. Check your details again; single core won't be great, but you should be able to tweak better playable performance. I thought your post said max details before when I posted, only resolution was different. Maybe I misread that.

UT3 is a game I have not done any CPU scaling in as it's a pain to accurately fraps bench IMO. But you have me curious and I'll test it with the HD3850 and a couple CPU's and see if my results match what you posted.

Resolution is not a detail level and I'm not referring to fsaa either as I stated. Look at reviews and you'll see charts like 1024x768 max details, 1600x1200 max details, 1600x1200 4xaa max details, etc. I am talking about either global in game (low, medium, high) details like Crysis, or the advanced option sliders in other games. Granted some games do have FSAA and AF settings in game, but other games setting all details to max does not turn on fsaa.

My point being that if your CPU can handle the lowest graphics settings, it will also handle the highest settings, PROVIDED YOUR GPU CAN HANDLE IT.

And what I'm telling you is this is not true if we are talking all in game detail levels and not a select few GPU limited ones. WHy would we have minimum spec CPU's and recommended CPU's if any CPU capable of minimum in game settings could handle max settings also? It would vary by game, but increasing the details, increases the demands on the CPU. Try Crysis, Oblivion, COD4, the Need for Speed series, etc. you will see this very clearly. As I said, you will not be able to handle max details with a min spec CPU.
August 26, 2008 1:18:13 PM

Well what i've discovered is the minumum spec CPU for that game isn't truly enough for my idea of playable. Sure if i sit in an empty hallway and stare at the wall, my frames jump up to 40-50fps.
But once i'm in the large environments with 32 players jumping around, my 2.8ghz P4 system suffers. I've found that with my new card, i can increase the details to maximum, and it suffers still, but no worse than before.
However if i stick to small closed deathmatch maps, i can somewhat keep around above the 30 FPS mark.
This is how i think Epic can offer their minimum specs, the game will run, but it won't run sufficiently fast enough for competitive play in the large maps with many players...
perhaps this is just my opinion and Epic disagrees, to what exactly is playable.
As far as tweaking the settings so that i can get better frames, well i've tried alot. I've read tweak guides, and i've gone so far as to removing so much details via ini config files that the game looks like 1980's polygon experiment. Those tweaks enabled my 6600gt to push out levels similiar to what my 3850 can do on maximum details. If i use those stiped down minumum settings with my 3850, i experience the same poor performance in the busy environments, i truly have nothing to lose by raising the details.

Ofcourse i agree with you that there are some details that would surely increase load on the CPU. In a singleplayer mode in a game like COD4, i'm sure increasing the difficulty-AI would surely increase CPU load, or perhaps enabling environment interactions, etc.
But most of the settings that are configurable seem to be things like, texture details, fsaa, aniso filtering, hdr lighting, other lighting effects, water effects, foliage details, resolution, draw distance, all these seem to be GPU bound.
So anyways, i don't intend to continue arguing. Besides i think we're on the same page anyways. Some details can be raised with little effect on CPU load, others will effect CPU load. It all came down to perhaps our use of the blanket term "details".
I only had in mind details that are traditionally considered eye candy, and are for the most part GPU bound. Of course unexplained detail slider bars could be increasing more detail to physics and complicated animations, that could severely increase CPU load.
a b U Graphics card
August 27, 2008 6:05:25 AM

Yeah, I can see that's different. Their min spec CPU is likely for small maps with few players, so makes sense you suffer on large 32 player maps even with your CPU.

I too think we are seeing things pretty closely now. You were referring to fsaa and resolution when questing the advice I gave, and I was referring to all the sliders and checkboxes within the graphics (or advanced) options in game when saying the CPU can limit the details that are playable.

To be sure anyone reading this understands this, let me give you an example from COD4 testing I did last night. You'll note very different results than you saw with UT3. The info could aid the OP as well as this CPU should be above his P4. It's a Celeron 420L (Conroe L) that's 1066 BSEL modded so running 2.2GHz. The HD3850 512MB should easily handle max details in this game at 12x10 or below, even if 4xaa was enabled. But to be sure, I left off FSAA.

All graphics detail options and texture options set to max but no fsaa and no AF, vs. all graphics details and texture options set to minimum vs a mixture that I'll call medium. Actual gameplay of a pretty intense game area, benched with fraps. I was running recruit(easiest AI) for easiest benching (can stay on course benchmarking without being killed or needing to change routes this way) COD4 v1.7 with Cat 8.8 drivers at default settings.

The Celeron 420L can handle minimum graphics and texture details as seen here. Some slowdowns, but not too bad considering the intense action. It's CPU limited and we surely do not need an HD3850 for low res min details.

Here are the settings for min details:

min details:
640x420: 45.507ave, 23 min, 117 max
800x600: 45.001 ave, 22 min, 114 max
1024x768: 44.334 ave, 23 min, 115 max
1280x1024: 44.348 ave, 22 min, 114 max

But, as I was explaining, although the CPU handles low details fine, it can not come close to max graphics/texture details throughout the game. These graphics settings over stress our little modded single core Conroe. Once again CPU limited, but this time IMO it's unplayable.

Here are all settings maxed:

max details
640x480: 28.425 ave, 13 min, 77 max
800x600: 28.296 ave, 13 min, 76 max
1024x768: 28.542 ave, 13 min, 77 max
1280x1024: 28.590 ave, 13 min, 74 max.

With an average of 28 fps and min of 13 fps at all resolutions, you can see the CPU isn't up to this task. I know the HD3850 paired with a decent CPU is easily up to this task.

Next I took a mix of settings, basically the optimal settings for this system with a HD2600 pro in it, but with all textures set to medium. I'll just call this medium details.

Here is the medium details:

medium details:
640x480: 39.180 ave, 20 min, 102 max
800x600: 39.089 ave, 19 min, 101 max
1024x768: 39.207 ave, 19 min, 100 max
1280x1024: 38.487 ave, 20 min, 101 max

You can see once again CPU limited and the effects on the CPU we see when changing the graphics and texture settings once again. These settings while not great, were IMO playable. But buying an HD3850 and being limited to medium details regardless of the resolution, would stink if the OP's friend expected to max the game. And again, this 1066 bus modded Conroe L should be above his P4 2.8 meaning more CPU limitation for him. And anyone on a minimum spec CPU would be even worse off than that and probably struggle to check/raise any of the detail levels.

I was hoping to test an HD2600XT or 2600 pro tonight as it will give us an idea if with this CPU they match the HD3850 or not. I'll still try to do one or both and add the data here. Honestly, I will be surprised if the HD2600XT doesn't do just as well. And at the lower resolutions, the HD2600 pro may still stay above what this CPU can do. Granted we could run 19x12 with 4xaa and then seperate the cards, but the important factor I wanted to stress by originally posting is the CPU can effect the graphics detail levels that can be enabled, even if you go all out on a crazy GPU. Buying a killer video card doesn't mean he can play COD4 in all it's glory...not if the CPU isn't up to handling all these details cranked. Also, all these cards should match up with their AGP parts and be useful for the OP (if he is still around) or anyone else reading this.
August 29, 2008 8:07:44 AM

my friend has 2 P4s@3 GHz

the thing is if you're going to spend money you might as well spend another 50 and get something that'll last a lot longer. he's not expecting to play it with amazing settings or anything, i told him that wouldn't really wouldn't happen. i keep trying to get him to buy my old computer but he just has no money.

so X1650 pro? is that going to be good enough though for 1024x768 with 70+ fps? could it do 1440x900?
August 30, 2008 10:47:25 PM

booo no one cares about AGP
September 1, 2008 12:43:22 PM

the x1650 would be sufficient for the games your CPU can handle. if you dont reach 70+fps, it will be your CPU holding you back.

but if for the the price of the X1650pro you can get a 2600xt, or 3650, I'd go for one of those.

the hd3650 will bring you more features, especially hardware decoding of high def movies. it can go toe to toe with the x1650pro in frames too.
September 13, 2008 5:50:00 AM

I too am looking for a new graphics board for my Dell Dimension 4600 that is a Pentium 4 with a 3.0GHZ hyper-threading processor. I recently boosted my ram to 3gig and am getting ready to put in a 640gig hard drive and thought I might as well boost the graphics from my old 128MB GeForce FX 5200 card to something that will handle more as far as gaming and video editing (prefer high def). Does anyone have a suggestion? Also will I most likely have to boost my power supply to use the card? If I will have to boost the power supply, I would like to have recommendations on that as well since I have never ventured into the area of upgrading my video card. Your suggestions would be helpful.
September 13, 2008 5:56:03 AM

I forgot to add I am limited to an AGP card since I do not have an PCI Express slot on board.
a c 130 U Graphics card
September 13, 2008 12:31:10 PM

I may be wrong as always :)  but dosent UT3 have a frame cap ? This would cause any restriction to be possably worse due to the frames basically getting made into subdividers or intigers if you like of the frame cap, same as it would if you were running V-sync on restricted hardware. That would explain why hixbot seems to be stuck at 25 fps, even allowing for the fact that the testing method is enherantly flawed by the detail and resolution being altered at the same time the FPS should haev some movement.

@ hhahaahyea,
Do you have a budget or is it just the best match you are after ? Personally i would say a 1650 would be selling your friends CPU short, better to have a slightly overpowered card than an underpowered one. I would say look at a 3650 or the 2600XT either of which will leave a 1650 pro in the dust as far as FPS goes.